The power of a good demo

People have been talking about Microsoft’s “Mojave Experiment” all day. What did they do? They demoed a “future operating system” to end users, got their feedback, usually positive, and then told them it was actually Windows Vista.

This is the first marketing in some time that made me think Microsoft’s marketing department had a clue about how to deal with its perception problem. Amazing to me that it took so long.

But when I see other Microsoft advertising, why isn’t it aspirational? Why doesn’t it just SHOW something cool you can do with Vista? Or with any of its other products?

Oh, by the way, I’m using Windows Vista to type this to you. My wife and I have been having this argument about Windows. I’ve been having her use a Lenovo X300 laptop that’s really sexy. But she keeps asking for her Mac back. Why? She says it feels better and is nicer to use (when we left Podtech she had to return her Mac). My son isn’t helping, either. He makes fun of us for using non-Mac machines. He even was arguing with HP’s head of marketing last week about how much better Apple’s machines are.

What I’d love to see is a head-to-head competition. Take both home for a week. Which one do you return?

Anyway, all this reminds me of is the power of a good demo. Actually, this is what I have loved about Apple’s stores whenever I go in: they are usually demoing what their machines can do. Walk in and they show you how to do all sorts of stuff from podcasting to digital photography. At the San Francisco store you can sit there and take tons of classes for free and they are usually pretty good and aimed at non-passionate users who are trying to do something specific with their machines.

Question: have you seen a Microsoft advertisment lately where Microsoft talks about what their machines can do? Have you seen an advertisment that shows you their WorldWide Telescope, for instance (that is still my favorite demo of 2008)? Or Microsoft’s Deep Zoom? Or Microsoft’s Surface? Or Microsoft Photosynth (my favorite demo of 2006)?

These are all wonderful technologies that demo very well, but if Microsoft is able to find so many people who’ve just heard that Vista is crappy, but who haven’t actually seen it for themselves (that’s what the Mojave Project was really all about), imagine how many people who think that Microsoft isn’t an innovative company who haven’t seen any of Microsoft’s very real innovations?

Personally, whoever buys and makes Microsoft’s advertising should be, well, let’s just say “Starbucked” since they laid off about 900 people today. It’s amazingly bad and it doesn’t have to be.

Hopefully that’s what they are really learning by doing these little “gotcha” experiments.

65 thoughts on “The power of a good demo

  1. Microsoft now has to do its marketing by duping its customers? Reminds me of those Office commercials where they implied their existing users of older Office suites were dinosaurs.

    It’s amazing in how many areas Microsoft are losing. MP3 players, Xbox, web search, mobile phone OS etc. etc. It’ll be interesting to see if Ballmer can deliver on his promise to improve the end-to-end experience of Microsoft’s products by working more closely with hardware vendors.

  2. Microsoft now has to do its marketing by duping its customers? Reminds me of those Office commercials where they implied their existing users of older Office suites were dinosaurs.

    It’s amazing in how many areas Microsoft are losing. MP3 players, Xbox, web search, mobile phone OS etc. etc. It’ll be interesting to see if Ballmer can deliver on his promise to improve the end-to-end experience of Microsoft’s products by working more closely with hardware vendors.

  3. In my view, Apple has been brilliant at creating an experience with their machines. Whether it be the computer or the iPhone, both produce deep experiences with the consumer that keep them wanting to interact.

    “people remember experiences, not features or attributes” – a.g. lafley

    What a great quote. I am a PC user and have been for a long time. I purchased an iPhone and must say that the “experience” is something that is tangible and meaningful. I was willing to switch my network provider, and all of the features of my Palm Treo to get the experience of the iPhone.

    What I am finding is that people are willing to deal with less features for an experience if that experience leads to a community. The Mac followers are a community. The PC people (me included) are isolated from each other for the most part.

  4. In my view, Apple has been brilliant at creating an experience with their machines. Whether it be the computer or the iPhone, both produce deep experiences with the consumer that keep them wanting to interact.

    “people remember experiences, not features or attributes” – a.g. lafley

    What a great quote. I am a PC user and have been for a long time. I purchased an iPhone and must say that the “experience” is something that is tangible and meaningful. I was willing to switch my network provider, and all of the features of my Palm Treo to get the experience of the iPhone.

    What I am finding is that people are willing to deal with less features for an experience if that experience leads to a community. The Mac followers are a community. The PC people (me included) are isolated from each other for the most part.

  5. The fact that Ballmer believes Vista’s problems relate to marketing indicates how ultimately doomed the organization is. Apple spent years and billions upgrading their already cool OS (I’d take Mac OS 9 over XP anyday, but I’d NEVER contemplate going back from OS X to OS9), and, by golly, they did a good job. MSFT hasn’t even made the transition to UNIX yet. They aren’t even out of the starting gate. They think they can coast on monopoly power forever. Same error Ford and GM continue to make.

  6. The fact that Ballmer believes Vista’s problems relate to marketing indicates how ultimately doomed the organization is. Apple spent years and billions upgrading their already cool OS (I’d take Mac OS 9 over XP anyday, but I’d NEVER contemplate going back from OS X to OS9), and, by golly, they did a good job. MSFT hasn’t even made the transition to UNIX yet. They aren’t even out of the starting gate. They think they can coast on monopoly power forever. Same error Ford and GM continue to make.

  7. Funny thing Robert – you asked about which computer would you return? Well, I just did some deep thinking about why I love my MacBook so much (I use several PC and Mac laptops) – you might be interested in reading it at: http://www.crittix.com/2008/08/04/why-apple-make-the-best-laptops/

    …and I agree with most of the other people here – this was inane at best, although I do understand the point that a lot of people are trashing Vista without even trying it. I tried it (and am using it) and don’t think it is anywhere near as clean and functional as Mac OSX, although it’s growing on me slowly…..like a fungus! :-)

  8. Funny thing Robert – you asked about which computer would you return? Well, I just did some deep thinking about why I love my MacBook so much (I use several PC and Mac laptops) – you might be interested in reading it at: http://www.crittix.com/2008/08/04/why-apple-make-the-best-laptops/

    …and I agree with most of the other people here – this was inane at best, although I do understand the point that a lot of people are trashing Vista without even trying it. I tried it (and am using it) and don’t think it is anywhere near as clean and functional as Mac OSX, although it’s growing on me slowly…..like a fungus! :-)

  9. (with apologies in advance to female readers for the sexism)

    Isn’t the Mojave Experiment a bit like inviting a guy to experience a breakthrough in oral sex pleasure while blindfolded, bring him to orgasm, and then reveal that it was Linda Tripp all along?

  10. (with apologies in advance to female readers for the sexism)

    Isn’t the Mojave Experiment a bit like inviting a guy to experience a breakthrough in oral sex pleasure while blindfolded, bring him to orgasm, and then reveal that it was Linda Tripp all along?

  11. I’m not surprised by the demo and think it’s probably valid. I’m a long-time Mac user (since 1993, and currently have a black Macbook) who just bought a cheap Vista PC from HP (rather than going the Parallels-type route for certain programs). The truth is, Vista works fine for web, Outlook, iTunes, Picasa, RDP, and similar programs. Outlook can be a bit slow, and bootup drags a bit. I expect that if a PC program doesn’t work on Vista, then that is very frustrating — not been my experience, though. And while the warning dialog boxes that pop up are somewhat annoying, they aren’t that frequent. MacOSX definitely is prettier and a more pleasing interface, and has a lot of kewl apps; however, Vista works well and looks good, and the PC really is a good platform for getting certain types of work done efficiently, due to solid programs with good features and keyboard shortcuts, like Outlook or Picasa. (I would make a similar argument that the Blackberry is a more productive, reliable tool for getting things done quickly than the iPhone — people right now are distracted by the Apps and 3G, but having owned an iPhone for a year and a BBerry for a few years, there is no contest — the BBerry works, and the iPhone is prettier but slower and prone to hang/crash and lacks power-user features). Just my opinion.

  12. I’m not surprised by the demo and think it’s probably valid. I’m a long-time Mac user (since 1993, and currently have a black Macbook) who just bought a cheap Vista PC from HP (rather than going the Parallels-type route for certain programs). The truth is, Vista works fine for web, Outlook, iTunes, Picasa, RDP, and similar programs. Outlook can be a bit slow, and bootup drags a bit. I expect that if a PC program doesn’t work on Vista, then that is very frustrating — not been my experience, though. And while the warning dialog boxes that pop up are somewhat annoying, they aren’t that frequent. MacOSX definitely is prettier and a more pleasing interface, and has a lot of kewl apps; however, Vista works well and looks good, and the PC really is a good platform for getting certain types of work done efficiently, due to solid programs with good features and keyboard shortcuts, like Outlook or Picasa. (I would make a similar argument that the Blackberry is a more productive, reliable tool for getting things done quickly than the iPhone — people right now are distracted by the Apps and 3G, but having owned an iPhone for a year and a BBerry for a few years, there is no contest — the BBerry works, and the iPhone is prettier but slower and prone to hang/crash and lacks power-user features). Just my opinion.

Comments are closed.